SANTA CLARA, Calif. (CBS4) – With Super Bowl 50 taking place in the San Francisco Bay area, the game is a homecoming of sorts for some players on the Denver Broncos roster.
Safety T.J. Ward grew up playing football in the east Bay area.
“Best feeling I ever had! And I’m going back to the crib — I’m going to Frisco,” Ward told a CBS4 cameraman after the Broncos won the AFC Championship on Jan. 24.
A few days later, Ward said he was excited for the team’s trip west.
“I can’t wait to get back in the Bay area so I can taste that Bay area air, and get that home feeling,” Ward said.
Ward, who has never been to a Super Bowl before, played football at De La Salle High School in Concord, California.
The De La Salle Spartans are a nationally known football powerhouse.
Ward played there during the team’s 151 game winning streak and is now the school’s fourth player to be on a team that made it to the Super Bowl.
“One the thing about T.J., he was a hitter as a youngster, and he’s a hitter now, so it’s going to be great to see him play against Carolina in the Super Bowl,” said Ward’s former coach Terry Eidson.
Ward says he still has fond memories of playing football as a youngster.
“Whenever I go home, there’s just something about it. The air, the grass, the sounds. It just brings up memories. And sometimes I’ll even be somewhere away from home and I’ll smell that grass and it reminds me of playing Pop Warner … it’s going to take me back to when I was dreaming of this moment,” Ward said.
Super Bowl 50 also means a ticket home for C.J. Anderson, who is more subdued about his homecoming.
“The excitement of the Super Bowl and being back home, all those are coming (together), but right now it’s just focusing on the things that we can do and take care of business,” Anderson said.
Anderson played football at Jesse M. Bethel High School in Vallejo, California, and after two years at Laney College became the first person to play for a Pac-12 school when he transferred to the California Golden Bears in Berkeley.
He’s still got lots of family back in California, including Barbara Gaddies, his grandmother.
“I’m so excited I can’t stand it,” said Gaddies, who calls her grandson by the nickname Bam Bam.
Anderson said the Super Bowl “will only be special if you win it.”
He would know — Anderson was on the team two years ago when the Broncos were defeated handily by the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII.